Monday, July 24, 2006

Food As Medicine

The four basic food groups as sensed by this (the cool) generation: canned, frozen, bottled and bagged. The old one knew them as grains and cereals; meat and poultry; fruits and vegetables; and dairy products. The older (not so cool) generation was taught that good nutrition is guaranteed by drawing food selections from each of the four groups and thus eat a “balanced diet.”(who also perceived fast food was what people ate during Lent).

This conventional wisdom on nutrition is under challenge. A study by a U.S. University in Pennsylvania noted that the four food groups do not insure adequate intakes of every essential nutrient, particularly Vitamin E, Vitamin B6, iron, zinc, magnesium and folate. Earlier, there were reports from food scientists that some foods are not as benign as everyone thinks, and enumerated a host of toxic and cancer-causing substances in their composition.

The news media wades in and occasionally carries some amusing items. Trite news about a dog biting man, or a man-eating shark are ho-hum and supplanted. Lately, we are more likely to read about a man biting dog (hotdog) or man eating shark (in the form of sharkfin soup, shark cartilage pill or squalene.) Alongside the news are ads that hype products which fight cancer or love hearts.

Given all these confusing claims, eating is not the same pleasure it once was. Still, one cannot dismiss the importance of food in sustaining life and wellbeing. .

In matters of health, there is a perception that the medical community seems reluctant to endorse nutrition. Some even say that medical schools generally ignore the area of nutrition science. A primary reason probably is that we all ─ doctors and laypersons alike ─ tend to view medicine as a curative rather than a preventive science. Most people see a physician only when they are sick and need immediate help. They do not go to get advice on nutrition … they go to get treatment for an illness. The curative medicine mindset in the public mind is reinforced by pandering politicians promising free medicine and clinics, implying that public health are dependent on pills. Even today, 2006 p.e. (Present Era, substitute for A.D. to avoid the association with Christianity) the medicinal healing mindset is well ingrained in the public mind, as illustrated by a recent headline stating that doctors are threatened by complimentary and alternate medicine, also called traditional medicine. In response, doctors have started studying the use of these medicines (mostly herbal).

In mid-1999, five of the leading health organizations of the U.S. united to endorse a diet plan representing what they say is the best and latest scientific advice for helping to prevent most major diseases. The organizations endorsing the guidelines are the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, American Dietetic Association, American Society of Pediatrics and the National Institutes of Health. The consensus titled Unified Dietary Guidelines is summarized into four major points: consume a variety of foods; decrease fat intake; increase consumption of fruits, vegetables and whole grains; and consume only enough calories to maintain a proper weight (accompanied by regular exercise). To complement these guidelines they advised to stop smoking and consume little or no alcohol. The aim is to resolve the confusion over what foods to eat to prevent specific diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity.

Nutritionists agree that most people can get all the nutrients essential for health by eating a balanced diet ─ if that is planned intelligently. But even a good diet may be compromised by other factors such as reduced blood levels of vitamin C and other vitamins by heavy smokers; decreased blood levels of B vitamins in users of oral contraceptives; impaired utilization of vitamins due to heavy alcohol consumption or to the effects of commonly used medication.

The Nobel Prize-winner Linus Pauling specialized in biochemical treatment to correct faulty biochemistry by achieving nutritional balance. By varying the concentrations in the human body of the substances normally present ─ vitamins, essential amino acids, fats, minerals and carbohydrates ─ would result in the preservation of good health and the prevention and treatment of disease.

Some in the medical research community are promoting a new line of thought ─ the philosophy of prevention rather than cure. These scientists recognize that no amount of chemical substances can compare with the wonders of the immune system, the body’s best defense against disease. The philosophy has spawned a new branch of science called nutritional immunology and stimulated studies focused on proper nourishment and how it enhances the immune system.

There is mounting evidence that nutrition plays a role in almost all diseases. Many scientists and physicians are concluding, for example, that nutritional deficiencies can trigger behavior leading to violent, even criminal acts; that hypoglycemia can set off irrational behavior that can be controlled through the diet or that a shortage of manganese may be the cause of convulsions and epilepsy; and that zinc deficiency is linked to rheumatoid arthritis. A doctor from the U.S. National Cancer Institute told a Senate hearing that “it appears that it may be possible to adjust available nutrients in the host so that the host may be fed and the tumor may be starved.”

The degenerative diseases that plague Western civilization have a great deal to do with diet. The essential truth of this observation has convinced many non-medical people for years, but medical researchers are slow in accepting this view. This attitude is not surprising considering the task of medical researchers that must prove or disprove which food elements affect which bodily processes. Considering the complexity of the human body, it is no wonder the hard evidence has been slow in coming in.

Diet and cancer

Then in June 1982 the world was given the news on the link between diet and cancer when a panel of the prestigious U.S. National Academy of Sciences announced the results of a thorough review of the evidence to date. The chairman of the panel, a Ph. D.. of the University of California told a press conference, “The evidence is increasingly impressive that what we eat does affect our chances of getting cancer, especially particular kinds of cancer.” The evidence, the panel concluded, was strong enough to make recommendations in four main areas:

· Eat plenty of grain cereals, fresh fruits and vegetables, especially those rich in vitamin C and beta-carotene. This helps reduce risk of lung, bladder, stomach and skin cancer.

· Cut back on consumption of fats, the strongest of the dietary elements linked to cancer, especially cancer of the breast, colon and prostate.

· Cut back on salt cured, salt-pickled and smoked foods (bacon, ham hotdogs, smoked fish) as these are linked to stomach and esophagus cancers.

· Cut back on alcohol consumption. When combined with smoking, excess alcohol consumption has been linked to increased risk of mouth, larynx, esophagus and respiratory tract cancer.

Medical science is expanding research on diets to prevent and cure diseases. The earliest zinc-deficient humans were found in the Middle East where the soil was cultivated by early civilizations. The earth’s soil became depleted by drought, continual planting without crop rotation or rest periods, leaching and erosion. Many trace elements have been lost, particularly zinc. Where did the essential elements come from? At sea where life started billions of years ago. The salts of the seawater eroded from land ─ calcium, potassium, magnesium and sodium combined with phosphate, chloride and carbonate to form the first cells. The biological role of these nutrients was first found in plants then proved in animals, and now determined as essential in the human body and health.

Diet as preventive medicine

Surfing the Web for Health topics on preventive medicine, search results (sometimes in the millions) could be an daunting experience. But with practice and refined search methods, a narrowed list is gleaned. In the field of preventive medicine the subject of nutrition as one of the basic fundamentals to good health is emerging more frequently. Fast piling up is the list of research results linking nutrition to disease prevention. Most reputable websites on medicine are bannering food and diet headlines such as: “Harness the Power of Vitamin D”, “Healthy Foods that can Lower Your Blood Pressure”, “Want to Stay Sharp, Try These Superfoods for the Mind”, “The Merits and Hazards of Eating Fish”, “Ten Great Health Foods”, “Whole Grains High on Nutrition”.

The importance of good nutrition was known as far back as 400 B.C., when Hippocrates said, "Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food." Much later, inventor Thomas Edison said: "The doctor of the future will give no medicine but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease."

Today, good nutrition is more important than ever. At least four of the 10 leading causes of death (in the U.S).--heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes--are directly related to the way they eat and diet is also implicated in many other ailments (Vitamin C to prevent scurvy, for one). The wrong diet can be deadly, but eating right is among the cornerstones of health. Combined with exercise, clean unstressed lifestyle (avoiding smoking and substance abuse) and limiting exposure to environmental hazards, the correct diet is almost the ticket to a ripe old age. Of course, genes still play a significant role in one’s health, but even this can be influenced by what and how a person eats.

For example, individuals genetically predisposed to diabetes can avoid the disease by exercise and controlling body weight. The gradual bone loss that results in osteoporosis is slowed by consumption of enough calcium and Vitamin D (sunlight is the largest single source of vitamin D for most people). The hardening of arteries (atherosclerosis) as one ages can begin in early childhood can be stopped or even reversed by healthy diets and lifestyle. (Latest studies make it clear that gene variants plays a key role in individual risks of coming down with a variety of diseases. Gene variants have been linked to elevated risks for disorders from Alzheimer's disease to breast cancer, and they may help explain why, for example, some smokers develop lung cancer whereas many others don't)

The practice of medicine, including health promotion and disease prevention, is on the verge of being revolutionized once again as the scientific and medical community transitions from evidence-based medicine to genomic medicine. In 1982, when the U.S. National Research Council published a comprehensive review of diet and cancer, the literature primarily based on comparing dietary patterns between countries of low and high incidence for particular cancers. The WHO International Agency for Research on Cancer also published a series of handbooks on cancer prevention in relation to dietary factors. The wider understanding of the complex interactions among genotype, diet, lifestyle, and environment evoked a change in clinical medical practice, evolving into a more personalized system that includes the analysis of individual genotype. The implications of this evolution are considerable because genomic medicine can potentially give rise to personalized nutrition recommendations.

The old maxim, "Everything in moderation”

Balance, variety and moderation are the keys to good nutrition. To stay healthy, the body needs the right balance of carbohydrates, fats, and protein. Also essential are vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and other substances from many different foods. Although some foods are better than others, no single food has it all--so eating a variety of different foods is essential. (Not all broccoli are created equal). Organically grown foods are superior to those exposed to pesticides, herbicides (both linked to leukemia) and synthetic fertilizers

Moderation means eating neither too much nor too little of any food or nutrient. Too much food can result in excess weight (obesity is now being studied as a disease and precursor to other serious diseases). Even too much of certain nutrients (usually by overuse of supplements) is also bad, while eating too little can lead to numerous nutrient deficiencies and low body mass.

Rice Like other Asian countries the staple food of Filipinos is rice, a nutrient-rich carbohydrate. In the process of milling the grain for the market, many nutrients are lost. Yet, for some reason, almost all consumers prefer the white milled rice to brown rice (unmilled). The nutritive constituents found in the bran layers of the grain are removed when the rice is milled, particularly in polishing to remove the “brown” coating of the bran layers. To satisfy the psychological desire of consumers for white rice, the milling process must include a system of conversion to retain the nutrients, specially the water-soluble B vitamins.

For centuries, parts of India have used a traditional method of parboiling rice, then spreading it on the ground to dry in the sun, after which it is milled. The method requires steeping the grain for a period of half a day up to several days, and then sun drying that depends on sunny weather, a chancy system that poses economic risk of soggy rotten grain. In a mechanical system, the rough unhulled rice (palay) goes to a cleaning procedure before undergoing the steeping operation. In the steeping treatment, the water-soluble B complex vitamins and minerals are carried from the outer layers (the hull, bran and germ) into the endosperm of the grain. Drying the grain is the last step.

In 1973, a report on studies made by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) found that rice contained phytates and tannates, substances that interfere in the body’s absorption of iron. The report stated further that this the reason why at least 37.5 percent of our population are anemic (deficient in iron).

Fats A newspaper article in 1993 referred to a study made by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI), which found that the average fat intake of Filipinos is only 15 percent compared to the American intake of 45 percent. The FNRI study recommends the fat diet content of Filipino diets to 30%, the same as the RDA limit agreed upon in the American Unified Dietary Guidelines

The Filipino and American recommended fat in the diet may coincide, but their goals go in opposite directions. The U.S. aim is reduction of fat intake levels because of obesity due to excess calories ingested, whereas Filipinos should eat more energy-packed fats (9 calories/gram vs 4 calories/gram in protein or carbohydrate). The FNRI study fails to mention the minimum or the Pinoy RDA to sustain the health functions of fat, or the blood levels at which stored body fat starts being used.

Fish Oil Fish is unfairly maligned by people who use putdowns such as fishmonger, fishy tale (fib), fishy smell (suspicious) or infer a sinister sense when they say “fishing for evidence”. But, thanks to the pharmaceutical industry that promoted fish-oil capsule supplements the marine animal has shaken off some of its bad image. The revelation that omega-3 in fish oil is kind to the heart has stimulated renewed interest in other fish diets ─ shark cartilage, shark fin soup, squalene therapy, all claiming healing properties. A Filipino doctor (PhD) dismisses the squalene hype, saying it “is not a dietary essential since the body can synthesize it from other components in the diet”, then delivers the final put-down by stating that the major fate of squalene in the body is its conversion to cholesterol.

For many years, the only value of fish in the field of nutrition was in vitamins A and D contained in cod-liver oil. In the 18th century, English physicians discovered that fish-liver oil could cure rickets. Thereafter, the daily spoonful of cod-liver oil became synonymous with good health ─ if not flavor ─ for generations. No one knew until mid-20th century that the precious ingredients of fish-liver oils were concentrated vitamins A and D that they contain.

Later in this century, scientists noted the lower incidence of coronary thrombosis (heart attack) of Eskimos and Japanese than the rest of the world’s population. The native diet of these people is very rich in fish and omega-3 fish oil. British researchers confirmed the link, and American researchers took the cue from their English peers.

Two factors in fish oil are nutritionally important. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), credited with inhibiting the formation of blood clots, lowering of blood cholesterol and reducing both triglycerides and low-density lipoproteins (LDL) which are reputed to be the carriers of the “dangerous” kind of cholesterol. The second factor is docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a component of the brain, sperm and retinal tissue, and possibly involved in brain transmission.

Which fish are rich in EPA and DHA? Among the richest are salmon, trout, mackerel, haddock and sardines, but all fish contain some EPA.

Much of the interest and discussion on omega-3 fish oils and their effect on health have been the result of promotion of fish-oil capsules by pharmaceutical companies. Because researchers admit they do not yet know exactly how the substance does its work, they advise caution in the use of supplements and suppress the notion that if the nutrient is good, more is better. Other scientists dispute whether fish oil in capsule form has as much benefit as omega-3 fatty acids contained in the fish, and these scientists favor increased consumption of fish instead of taking supplements.

Curiously, seldom does the debate involve the fact that omega-3 fatty acids are also contained in other oils like rapeseed oil (canola), in soybean oil, flaxseed, and walnuts,. Part of the answer could be that fish diet culture is a well-known fact, but non-fish sources of omega-3 oils still needs study ─ and these studies cost money.

Fish Story: There is no fish called the “sardine” Those little fish lined up inside the can are real, of course, and they belong to one of the varieties of fish in a large family called Clupeidae. The word sardine comes from Sardinia, an island in the Mediterranean. The natives of Sardinia don’t eat fish if they can avoid it. Most Filipinos call the sardine tamban.

Cancer Doctors have known for years that healthful diets help prevent heart disease, but proving that particular foods protect against cancer has been difficult, says Walter Willett, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health. Scientists long have been intrigued that people in developing countries who tend to eat more plant foods and fish, have lower cancer rates than those in countries whose diets are dominated by fats and red meat. Recent studies, however, have dashed hopes for a variety of proposed anti-cancer strategies: reducing fat to prevent breast cancer, increasing fiber to ward off colon tumors and filling up on fruits and vegetables to avoid cancer in general, says Willett.

Science has crushed enthusiasm for some dietary supplements as well. Beta carotene pills, for example, actually increased the risk of cancer in clinical trials. Studies found vitamin E failed to reduce cancer risk.

Evidence strongly links obesity to colon cancer, pancreatic cancer, postmenopausal breast cancer, liver cancer and others. Though eating vegetables may not reduce a cancer patient's risk of death, losing even a few pounds may benefit people with certain tumor types Although nuts are high in calories and fat, they contain a good, heart-healthy fat. More important, the form of vitamin E (gamma-tocopherol) found in nuts and plant seeds--but not in most supplements--may slow the growth of cancer cells

Heart Disease Although foods and diets have been associated to medical treatments since ancient times, only in the 19th century was research begun into specific nutritive properties. James Lind's 18th-century researches into the treatment of scurvy initiated the modern scientific era of nutrition and its clinical investigation.

The word nutrition comes from the Latin nutrire, to suckle, nurse or nourish. Diet (selective healthy eating) is the first defense in preventing a host of diseases and researchers continue to study nutritional factors that may increase the risks of cancer, such as high intake of dairy products and low intake of folic acid, calcium, vitamin D and lycopene, found in tomatoes. A report from Harvard Medical School (Healthy Eating: A guide to the new nutrition ) explains how a healthy diet helps prevent heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders, and even some forms of cancer and blindness.

Eighty percent of heart disease is preventable with healthy lifestyle: good food, fitness, and normal weight declares the American Heart Association (AHA). In a nutshell, the AHA says you can avoid heart disease if you:

· Eat a healthy overall diet.

· Balance calories consumed with calories burned.

· Get at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day.

· Eat lots of fruits and vegetables.

· Choose whole-grain, high-fiber foods.

· Eat fish -- especially oily fish such as salmon -- at least twice a week.

· As much as you can, avoid saturated fats and trans fats.

· Cut back on cholesterol by choosing lean meats and fat-free or low-fat dairy foods.

· Cut back on beverages and foods with added sugars.

· Cut back on salt added to food -- especially if you're middle aged or older, African-American, or have high blood pressurehigh blood pressure.

· If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation.

· Make healthy choices when dining in restaurants

· Don't smoke

The idea isn't to burn out after two weeks of strenuous effort, but to gradually adopt healthy habits for the rest of your life. Making small, incremental, permanent changes in your habits is the only way to make enough of a change, for a long enough time, to accrue benefits.

A registered dietitian at Mayo Clinic picks these 10 health foods as some of the healthiest because they meet at least three of the following criteria: Are a good or excellent source of fiber, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients ; Are high in phytonutrients and antioxidant compounds, such as vitamins A and E and beta carotene ; May help reduce the risk of heart disease and other health conditions ; Are low in calorie density ( fewer number of calories )

Apples are an excellent source of pectin, a soluble fiber that can lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels, and good sources of the vitamin C — an antioxidant that protects your body's cells from damage, helps form the connective tissue collagen, keeps your capillaries and blood vessels healthy, and aids in the absorption of iron and folate. Almonds These nuts are packed protein, fiber, riboflavin, magnesium, iron and calcium. almonds have more calcium than any other nut. One serving of almonds provides half of your body's (RDA) of vitamin E. And they're good for your heart. Most of the fat in almonds is monounsaturated fat that may help lower blood cholesterol levels. Broccoli, a good source of calcium, potassium, folate and fiber, broccoli contains phytonutrients — compounds that may help prevent chronic diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes and some cancers. Broccoli is also a good source of vitamins A and C — antioxidants that protect your body's cells from damage. Red beans are good sources of iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper and thiamin, an excellent low-fat, low-calorie source of protein and dietary fiber, contain phytonutrients that may help prevent chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. Salmon, a good source of protein, is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids — a type of fat that makes your blood less likely to form clots that may cause heart attacks. Omega-3s may also protect against irregular heartbeats that may cause sudden cardiac death, decrease triglyceride levels, decrease the growth of artery-clogging plaques, lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of stroke. Spinach is high in vitamins A and C and folate, a good source of riboflavin, vitamin B-6, calcium, iron and magnesium. and compounds that may boost your immune system and may help keep your hair and skin healthy. Sweet potatoes The deep orange-yellow color of sweet potatoes tells you that they're high in the antioxidant beta carotene. which are converted to vitamin A in your body, may help slow the aging process and reduce the risk of some cancers. Sweet potatoes are also good sources of fiber, vitamins B-6, C and E, folate and potassium. And like all vegetables, they're fat-free and relatively low in calories — one small sweet potato has just 54 calories. Vegetable juice has most of the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients found in the original vegetables and is an easy way to include vegetables in your diet. Tomato juice and vegetable juices, are good sources of lycopene, an antioxidant which may reduce the risk of heart attack, prostate cancer and possibly other types of cancer. Caveat: some vegetable and tomato juices are very high in sodium. (Food scientists recently discovered that processed or canned tomatoes may be more nutritious than fresh ones, giving more than six times more lycopene and absorbed better, especially with fat such as olive oil, than fresh tomatoes.) Wheat germ at the center of a grain of wheat is the wheat germ, a highly concentrated source of nutrients, including niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin E, folate, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, iron and zinc. The germ also contains protein, fiber and some fat.

Whole grains, also called cereals are seeds of grasses, which are cultivated for food Whole grains are high in nutrition and fiber, yet low in fat. They include the bran, germ and endosperm — all containing valuable nutrients. All types of grains are good sources of complex carbohydrates, various vitamins and minerals and are naturally low in fat. But grains that haven't been refined — called whole grains — are better sources of fiber and other nutrients, such as selenium, potassium and magnesium

Heart-smart strategies

1. Limit unhealthy fats and cholesterol. Of the possible dietary changes, limiting how much saturated and trans fats you eat is the most important step you can take to reduce your blood cholesterol and lower your risk of coronary artery disease. A high blood cholesterol level can lead to a buildup of plaque in your arteries, which can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke. The American Heart Association offers these guidelines for how much fat and cholesterol to include in your diet.

Saturated fat calories - Less than 7 percent of your total daily Limit the amount of solid fat — butter, margarine and shortening — you add to food when cooking and serving.. When you do use fat, choose monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil or canola oil. Polyunsaturated fats, found in nuts and seeds, are a healthier choice as well. When used in place of saturated fat, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats may help lower your total blood cholesterol..

Trans fat calories Less than 1 percent of your total daily

Cholesterol Less than 300 milligrams a day for healthy adults; less than 200 milligrams a day for adults with high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or "bad," cholesterol or those who are taking cholesterol-lowering medication

2. Choose low-fat protein sources

Meat, poultry and fish along with low-fat dairy products and eggs are good sources of protein, but choose lower fat options, such as skim milk rather than whole milk and skinless chicken breasts rather than fried chicken patties.

Legumes (beans, peas and lentils ) also are good sources of protein and contain less fat and no cholesterol, making them good substitutes for meat. Soybeans, a legume, may be especially beneficial to your heart. by substituting soy protein for animal protein — for example, a soy burger for a hamburger — may help lower your cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

3. Eat more vegetables and fruits

Vegetables and fruits are low in calories, are good sources of vitamins and minerals, and are rich in dietary fiber. A diet high in soluble fiber, the kind found in fruits and vegetables, can help lower blood cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease. Vegetables and fruits also contain phytochemicals, substances found in plants that may help prevent cardiovascular disease. On the subject of phytochemicals, a nutrition expert was asked: Can herbal supplements containing phytoestrogens truly increase a woman's breast size significantly? The query was based on the reasoning that more phytoestrogens (chemicals mimicking female hormone) means more hormones equals bigger tits. The reply was blunt --- if the stuff worked, half the world’s women would be as chesty as Salma Hayek or Pamela Anderson. Another plant product touted as a route to bigger boobs are foods claiming to increase the body's progesterone levels

4. Select whole grains

Whole grains haven't had their bran and germ removed by milling, making them good sources of fiber — the part of plant-based foods your body can't digest — and other nutrients. Whole grains are also a source of vitamins and minerals, such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin E and magnesium, phosphorus, selenium, zinc and iron ans phytochemicals. Nutrients found in whole grains play a role in regulating blood pressure and heart health.

Eating for a Healthier Brain

Foods added to your daily diet that will increase your odds of maintaining a healthy brain for the rest of your life.

Blueberries rich in phytonutrients fiber and vitamin C help protect the brain from oxidative stressstress and may reduce the effects of age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementiadementia, significantly improve both learning capacity and motor skills. Deep-water fish, such as salmon, are rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids, which are essential for brain function Nuts and seeds are good sources of vitamin E, and with higher levels of vitamin E correspond with less cognitive decline as one ages. Avocados are almost as good as blueberries in promoting brain health has monounsaturated fat, which contributes to healthy blood flow which means a healthy brain. Avocados also lower blood pressure, and as hypertension is a risk factor for the decline in cognitive abilities, a lower blood pressure should promote brain health. Whole grains, such as oatmeal, whole-grain breads, and brown rice can reduce the risk for heart diseaseheart disease. Because every organ in the body is dependent on blood flow, promoting cardiovascular health means promoting good flow to the organ system including the brain. Beans stabilize glucose (blood sugar) levels. The brain is dependent on glucose for fuel, and since it can't store the glucose, it relies on a steady stream of energy -- which beans can provide. Tea. Two to three cups a day of freshly brewed tea contains a modest amount of caffeine which, when used "judiciously," can boost brain power by enhancing memory, focus, and mood. Tea has potent antioxidants, especially the class known as catechines, which promotes healthy blood flow. Bottled or powdered teas don't do the trick, but tea bags do.

Vitamin D - the important role of vitamin D in promoting healthy bones is largely by promoting the absorption of calcium. If deficient in vitamin D, particularly in your older years, it can lead to osteoporosis or osteomalacia [bone softening], Recent and mounting evidence links low levels of the vitamin to an increased risk of type 1 diabetes, muscle and bone pain, and, perhaps more serious, cancers of the breast, colon, prostate, ovaries, esophagus, and lymphatic system If you want to lower your blood pressure, reduce your risk of diabetes, or lower your chances of heart attacks, rheumatoid arthritis, or multiple sclerosis, then vitamin D should be at the front of the line in your daily regimen. It also stimulates your pancreas to make insulin and regulates your immune system."

Listed here are a few more evidences that food is an effective preventive medicine

A Dark Chocolate a Day Keeps the Doctor Away; chocolate linked to lower blood pressure Experts have long known that dark chocolate contains heart-healthy substances, known as polyphenol flavonoids. Recent research shows that these substances directly help to improve the functioning of the endothelium, a layer of cells in arteries (including those in the heart) that prevents plaque buildup and protects against high blood pressure. Coffee You've probably heard that you should switch from coffee to green tea in order to save your heart and prevent cancer. If you heard such advice, you'll love this news. Research shows that coffee may contain healing antioxidants as well, preventing colon cancer, diabetes, and Parkinson's disease. An alkaloid in coffee may even prevent cavities! Coffee also, especially the decaffeinated kind, seems to offer protection against adult-onset diabetes. What causes the apparent effect is unclear, but it is possible that minerals and non-nutritive plant chemicals found in rich amounts in the coffee bean may favorably affect blood-sugar levels or protect the pancreas from stress. Beans are filled with antioxidant goodness.

Spices do more than flavor food. A cure for cancer may be as near as the nearest Indian restaurant. Researchers say that turmeric, a key spice in most curries, contains curcumin a pigment that Cancer magazine says has promise in fighting breast, colon, prostate and pancreatic cancers. Cinnamon may prove useful for diabetes, and a dozen cloves of garlic per day may be just right for lowering cholesterol. The same component of jalapeƱo peppers (capsaicin) that makes them burn the tongue also appears to kill prostate cancer cells.

The U.S. FDA approved a new qualified health claim for olive oil based on research that indicated consuming about 2 tablespoons (23 grams) of olive oil a day may reduce the risk of heart disease. (A qualified health claim is one for which there is limited but inconclusive scientific evidence.) Wine and Beer One alcoholic drink a day may cut your risk of heart attack, clot-caused strokes, diabetes, insulin resistance, and some types of dementia. One drink equals 5 oz of wine, 12 oz of beer, or 1 1⁄2 oz of an 80-proof spirit. For best disease protection, choose either red wine or dark beer. Resveratrol, a compound found in the skins of red grapes (and consequently red wine), blocks a key protein that cancer cells need to survive; without it, they starve to death, University of Virginia researchers found. The scientists dosed human cancer cells with resveratrol at a level approximating the amount of the compound they'd be exposed to inside a human body.Darker beer is richer in healthy plant chemicals called polyphenols; in some research, it stopped platelets--the building blocks of clots--from sticking together in the blood of all six dogs that drank it. Light-colored beer fed to six other dogs blocked clots in only two. University of Wisconsin Medical School scientists say it may be the polyphenols, not the alcohol, that account for beer's apparent ability to help reduce heart disease risk in dog's best friend

Flavonoids are natural chemicals found in plants, fruits and vegetables. They’re the largest group of several thousand compounds belonging to the antioxidant-rich polyphenol family. These terms, along with flavonoid and polyphenols (also called phytochemicals), are often used interchangeably, The chemical nature of polyphenols is still being studied, but research has shown that these compounds, particularly the flavonoids, have many health-promoting properties

Improve memory and concentration and are used to treat attention deficit disorder

Are powerful free radical scavengers that can boost the effectiveness of vitamin C in the antioxidant network

Regulate nitric oxide, a potent free radical that is a regulator of blood flow

Keep your heart healthy in three ways: prevent blood clots, protect against oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol, and lower high blood pressure

Flavonoids may also help prevent the development of Alzheimer’s disease, relieve chronic fatigue syndrome bolster immune function and slow down aging

Want to cut your risk of stroke? Eat more fruits and vegetables, British researchers report in The Lancet. New research may help explain why eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts helps protect the heart and prevent diabetes. The key may be the mineral magnesium. People in the study who ate magnesium-rich diets seemed to be protected against developing metabolic syndrome, a cluster of risk factors linked to cardiovascular disease and diabetes. They reviewed eight studies that covered stroke and consumption of fruits and vegetables. Stroke is the No. 3 cause of death in American adults.

Worst foods you can eat

Not all foods are benign. Foods that pose risks to your health include:

Hydrogenated fats These are mostly man-made fats that are used in bakery items and margarine. Studies have shown that it isn't so much how much fat there is in your diet that causes problems, as what kind of fat, and hydrogenated fats are the worst. Avoid eating cookies, crackers, baked goods or anything else that has hydrogenated oil on the ingredient list. Look for trans fats on the nutrition panel. Nitrates Cured meats such as bacon and hot dogs, use nitrates to preserve color and maintain microbial safety. Nitrate is harmless, but it can convert to nitrite, which can form nitrosamines, a powerful cancer-causing chemical, in your body.. When you do eat foods containing nitrates, drink a glass of orange juice at the same time. Vitamin C inhibits the conversion to nitrosamines in your stomach. Alcohol Consume alcohol wisely and safely, such as a glass of wine with dinner. Or take the daily couple of shots for anti-stroke preventative (in lieu of aspirin) Raw oysters can carry deadly bacteria that can cause severe illness or death. Oysters are a nutritious food, and are great to include in your diet, but if you do buy them, cook them first! Other shellfish are also nutritious, but again caution must be taken when an official Red tide alert is announced. Saturated animal fats That means fatty meats, especially beef and pork, or the skin on poultry. It also includes full-fat dairy products such as cheese, milk and cream. Although fatty meat and dairy products have some contributions to make to a diet, these can be found elsewhere. Soda Drinking soda is a poor way to get fluids. They are full of sugar or artificial sweeteners and often contain artificial colors and flavors. High-fat snacks, chips Even when made with vegetable oil, they should be minimized. The fat in these foods are of the omega-6 variety, found in most processed vegetable oils. It is thought that too many of these fats may be leading to certain chronic diseases. Studies suggest that even moderate overweight can raise the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and several forms of cancer.

Obesity isn't all about eating and inactivity.. There may be other possible causes of obesity besides gluttony and sloth. It's well accepted that reduced physical activity and fast food are linked to obesity, but the evidence that these are the main causes of obesity is "largely circumstantial," says an international group of researchers.

Separating Nutrition Hype From Fact

When the "experts" began telling consumers to switch from butter to margarine, these margarine-eating folks today are having multiple bypass surgery. Such "experts" are hired by lawyers to promote their clients' position in trial and these experts seemed to skew their "interpretation" of data to fit the case. No doubt, food and drug manufacturers do the same to promote their products. Should we then trust expert advice when it could be biased?

Eggs are bad, and then they're good. Coffee is bad, and now it is said to be rich in antioxidants. Vitamin E is good, now it is said to cause heart damage if taken regularly in large doses. What’s going on?.

There are few simple tools that can help you filter any new health information:

If a health claim seems too good to be true, it is. .

There is no one cure-all food. Broccoli is good for you but so are ampalaya, saluyot and fish.

Not everything on the Web, TV or in print is reliable and should be treated with caution. Make sure that the person making the recommendations is a certified and experienced health expert.

Some of the recommendations and remedies out there can be harmful to your health.

New nutrition research will continue to contradict old information. So, keep up-to-date with nutrition know-how to make choices that stand the test of time.

Food is medicine

As the mounting evidence from research and studies pertaining to the link between certain foods and disease immunity accumulates, the theory that food is fundamental to the prevention of disease, and that in concert with lifestyle changes, exercise, hygiene and environmental sanitation, the theory must now be accepted and applied into general medical practice and made public policy. Thomas Edison’s doctor could yet become real.

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